AirRater to Beat2Phone, Verily and Watson … Patient-centric healthcare innovations for positive wellbeing

July 20, 2017

Healthcare, like many other industries is in the midst of disruptive innovation. Whilst technologies – from digital platforms to genetic engineering, remote monitoring and intelligent devices, robotic procedures and new business models – enable this disruption …  it is much more about a change in attitude towards patients and their care.

It’s all about patients – personal, predictive and positive.

AirRater, for example is an example of a new start-up, monitoring air quality for asthma sufferers, so that they can predict high levels and warn patients to take action. CVS Health is a great example of the shift from medicines when you are unwell, to services that ensure your positive wellbeing. Pfizer is another example, their oncology team setting out on a new mission to beat cancer, or at least to help patients through the diagnosis and treatments, and improve their chances of recovery. Cleveland Clinics have reinvented the hospital experience around integrated care and patient wellbeing. 23andMe hand patients the ability through $99 DNA profiling to understand future health risks and take preventative actions now. Prudential reduce your health insurance premiums, based on your amount of exercise, tracked with a free fitness band.

This is a dramatic shift.

Healthcare used to be incredibly product-centric, based around the disease and the drug to treat it. Pharma companies focused on physicians rather than patients, seeking to get their drug front of mind, rather than thinking about the broader needs of the patient. Most people only visited a pharmacist when they were unwell, as opposed to seeking to stay well. Most payer, governments and health insurance, saw an endless rise in costs through a spiral of unhealthiness. Regulation also discouraged patient-interaction, forbidding the promotion of drug brands, and unlicensed delivery. Whilst there is an obvious need for responsible information, the opportunities to educate and engage people in taking a more responsible approach to positive healthcare are huge and exciting.

Here are some more examples of recent innovators:

AirRater … Using to sensors to crowdsource asthma care

AirRater is a mobile app that helps the citizens of Tasmania, Australia who are living with asthma, hay fever and other lung conditions to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Through a network of sensors installed across the state, AirRater monitors smoke (often as a result of bushfires), temperature and pollen levels in multiple locations. Users can then enter the symptoms they are experiencing in their current location. AirRater uses this crowdsourced symptom data, combined with sensor data, to build a model of air quality across the state. This allows users to understand the extent to which current symptoms are attributable to air quality in their location. AirRater helps users to proactively manage their asthma, hay fever and other lung conditions through the provision of real-time data that hasn’t previously been available.

Beat2phone … Smartphone ECG app to check your heart

Beat2phone is a Finnish company offering a medical-grade ECG device for consumers that live streams data to a smartphone from a wearable chest-strap. Designed to help identify asymptomatic atrial fibrillation – a condition that causes an irregular heart rate – the device uses proprietary algorithms to process and analyze the signal, provide automatic detection of the presence of heart abnormalities and enable instant feedback to patients, relatives and health providers.  Innovation like this is finally fulfilling the promise of wearable technology – to bring medical-grade technology to the patient, supporting early intervention and diagnosis, and ensuring that significant insights mined from patient-gathered, clinically useful data can be sent automatically to health providers.

Counsyl … DNA screening for the important moments in life

A health tech start-up, Counsyl is focused solely on genetic testing. Their goal? They want to focus on helping patients make more knowledgeable decisions about their lives. Currently, Counsyl provides genetic counselors to help clients interpret their individual test results and evaluate a possible prevention plan. This ties back to personalized medicine. If an individual understands their individual genetic makeup, new doors open for better treatment plans and even preventing diseases before they develop.

Verily (Google) Life Sciences … harnessing big data to predict future health needs

Inside Google X, the future innovations team of Google, is a special sector dedicated to medicine called Verily Life Sciences. This small but fast-growing effort led by top physicians and researchers is looking to use data to help prevent people from getting sick rather than just treat sick people. From building a new robotic surgery platform in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson to genome storage, Google is arguably the biggest player. The reason? Google owns all of our information. Yes, you and me. Our searchers, our conversations, our email. Think about it. If they find a sweet spot of ensuring the privacy of our data but leveraging it to further health technology, Google may be able to affect changes in major areas of medicine and disease such as a cancer-detecting pillSmart contact lens for diabetic patients, and even a medical record open sharing platform.

IBM Watson Health … using artificial intelligence to make better choices

Watson is IBM’s supercomputer designed to mimic how human cognition works (hence, how we learn), holds major promise to improve health care, administration and even more critically, cancer treatment. IBM began rolling this out to the medical world through insurance provider WellPoint and Memorial Sloan Kettering. Watson is currently diving deep into understanding how cancer is treated today from the world’s expert oncologists. Watson has the ability to memorize the data of thousands of studies and trials. What could this do? It has the potential to provide healthcare professionals significant patient care improvements using artificial intelligence and sharing that information with the click of a button.

Ginger.io … reinventing support for stress, anxiety and depression

This mobile app tracks behavioral data to improve care. They analyze patterns in communication and location through algorithms designed to alert caregivers of changes that may indicate new symptoms or an emergency. To date, they’ve collected more than 6 million data points from patients which will help the company’s technology improve as the customer base grows.

LifeguardMobile … Remote monitor of cancer symptoms

US-based Lifeguard Health Networks provides a novel, low-cost, mobile-based model of care for managing a range of conditions, but with a strong focus on integrated cancer care. LifeguardMobile allows health providers to define care plans that monitor cancer symptoms (i.e. patient reported outcomes), vital sign observations from consumer health devices, medications adherence, exercise, nutrition, sleep and more. Notifications remind a patient to regularly enter data about their adherence to the care plan. Once data is captured, it flows back to the health provider, where it is automatically assessed against thresholds defined by the oncologist care team in a personalized care plan. Patients whose data violates these thresholds show up on an at-risk patient dashboard and notify the care team to intervene. Where LifeguardMobile really comes into its own is transitional care for cancer patients moving back into community care following hospital treatment. This new model of care allows health providers to undertake early intervention and prevent hospital readmission.

Medisafe … your virtual pillbox to improve drug adherence

At least half the people who are prescribed drugs, don’t take them when they should. Medisafe is aiming to solve that problem. A new app from the MediSafe Project actually makes taking whatever your prescribed medication safer, more efficient and even fun, given the integration of gamification user design into the app. Medisafe is a mobile medication management platform that reminds patients to take their medications via smartphones and tablets, serving to improve medication adherence rates and curb the growing annual health care costs globally. Think of it as your virtual pillbox that set reminders for when to take your pills, requiring a scan of the medicine’s barcode at each dose. If the patient forgets, a family member or friend will get an alert as part of the setup of the app. Medisafe is one of the leading companies leveraging wireless and cloud technology to improve drug adherence. Last year, MediSafe revealed that Type 2 diabetic users of its technology boasted adherence rates of at least 26 percent higher than standard rates for long-term therapies.

Medivation … finding new therapies for chronic diseases

Medivation, recently acquired by Pfizer, is a company focused on finding new therapies for chronic diseases such as cancer. Based in San Francisco, one of the company’s drug products, Xtandi, has been shown to extend the lives of men living with advanced stages of prostate cancer. They tackle some of the most serious diseases that currently have limited treatment options. Diseases include breast cancer and prostate cancer, two of the most common cancers in men and women. This biopharmaceutical research entity hopes to provide sound treatments to patients with otherwise critical illnesses.

PatientsLikeMe … Patients trust patients, finding empathy and advice

PatientsLikeMe is a global digital health community where patients gather together to share data and insights about their conditions. It was developed by an ALS patient and his family who struggled to find information to guide their decisions, so they launched PatientsLikeMe to connect to other ALS patients. It quickly expanded to include patients with any condition, and now over 500,000 patients with more than 2,700 conditions share their stories, as well as information on their conditions, treatments and symptoms. One story can be powerful. The effect of data aggregated across thousands of people with the same condition is changing the way in which we deliver healthcare. Aggregated patient data is now available on a huge large scale across such a range of conditions, and it offers insights that are compelling to patients, HCPs, pharmaceutical companies and medical researchers.

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